Businesses Held Responsible for Facebook User Comments

Aug 08, 2012

Vodka maker, Smirnoff, faced an advertising complaint in Australia after users left comments on the company's Facebook page that depicted "obscenity, sexism, racism, and depictions of irresponsible drinking." The complaint was put before the Advertising Standards Board (ASB), Australia's governing body which ensures advertisers to ensure that ads are truthful and respectful.

According to Forbes, The ASB ruled that comments on the company's Facebook page is "effectively advertising, regardless of whether they were made by the company or a member of the public, and should therefore comply with advertising laws." This essentially means that companies are responsible for what users write on a company's Facebook wall and must protect against false claims and obscene material.

As Forbes points out, even though this is an Australian case, it could have implications in the US as countries often look to each other when considering Common Law jurisdictions. This means that companies with a Facebook presence should now keep a closer eye on what gets posted on the company's page to not run the risk of backlash over a false advertising claim.